It is as important as a good headshot. If we haven’t met you before it is usually the deciding factor on whether we invite you to an audition. It gives us a good sense of who you are – what you look like, sound like, the way you move, your physicality.
Our audition slots are precious and we want them to be filled by actors who have a chance of getting the role. We don’t want to waste anyone’s time – yours, ours and certainly not the directors and producers we work with. But at the same time we like to discover new actors rather than simply bringing in the same faces.
When filling our audition slots we are far more likely to call you in if we have been able to see a snippet of your work as opposed to somebody who just has a headshot.
So what do we like to see in a showreel?
Firstly, it should be short – no more than 3 minutes. And if we’re honest we don’t usually watch all the way to the end. We rarely cast simply from a showreel – we use it as a tool to decide whether to bring you in – so usually after a minute or two we’ve made our decision.
We like an opening montage – some casting directors don’t – but we do (although they are not, of course, compulsory). A quick trailer showing your versatility, a few different looks. And the choice of music interests us too – it gives us a slight insight into your tastes. This montage should last about 30 seconds or so.
And then if you have them three of four good sequences, tightly edited to show us your performance. It doesn’t have to be the entire scene either – we are less interested in narrative, more interested in seeing what you can do. Each sequence should be about 30 or 40 seconds long.
Choose contrasting clips – we like to see variety and versatility, depth and range.
Resist the temptation to include work where you are not featured prominently – make sure you choose scenes where we can see your face. So avoid those long shots where we have difficulty picking you out. Close ups or medium close ups work best.
If in doubt about a clip – don’t use it!
What if you haven’t got anything worthwhile to put on a showreel?
We’re more than happy to watch a simple video introduction straight to camera. It doesn’t need to be gimmicky – just who you are, what you are about. Just to give us a sense of you. Everyone has to start somewhere.
There are a whole host of companies that will now film a showreel for you from scratch. If you decide to go this route choose carefully! Research what they do, watch as many showreels they have produced as you can, check for hidden extras.
Try to pick material from lesser known productions – there’s something off-putting about seeing re-enacted scenes that just don’t have the production value or star power of the original.
We watch all our showreels online – YouTube, Vimeo, Spotlight – it doesn’t really matter, but we no longer watch DVDs…